NORTHWOOD FC   Tuesday 20th August 2013   DUNSTABLE TOWN FC

Calor Southern League Central Division

  Northwood 1  Dunstable Town 3   

Senior 34

Scorers: Roache 35,
Bruce 52, Murphy 85

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 James Reading     1 Jack Smith
2 Danny McDonnell     2 Wayne Mills (75m)
3 Ryan Phillips     3 Daniel Mead
4 Brad Hewitt (46m)     4 Joseph Bruce
5 Steve Brown     5 Damen Pickering
6 Craig White     6 Moses Olaleye
7 Jon-Jo Bates (59m)     7 Danny Murphy (89m)
8 James McCluskey     8 Leon Cashman (71m)
9 Niko Muir (71m)     9 Lee Roache
10 Garry Senior     10 Matt Nolan
11 Joakim Enui     11 Chris Marsh
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Lee Close (46m)     12 Tony Fontanelle (75m)
14 George Nicholas     14 Nathan Frater
15 Sonny Bailey Aird     15 Tony Burnett
16 Oliver Sprague (71m)     16 Fabio Bufano (71m)
17 Ronnel Dennis (59m)     17 Taishan Griffith (89m)
      Referee: Chris Williams; Assistants: Malcolm McIntyre & Paul O'Hare      
  REPORT by Alan Evans     PHOTOS by James Brown  

The Woods were unable to replicate their high-tempo opening day performance as they slipped to defeat in their first home game of the season against newly-promoted Dunstable. Like Slough, Dunstable are among the favourites for a promotion challenge having won the Spartan South Midlands League title with an unbeaten record and they were keen to put their own opening day defeat behind them.

Northwood named an unchanged side in the hope that the same combination of players would have similar success, but it was Dunstable who looked sharper and more positive from the start of the match. A wave of attacks forced a series of corners, delivered expertly by the left wand of former Northwood favourite Danny Murphy and it needed some solid defending, a bit of luck and one excellent save from James Reading, to keep the Blues at bay.

A run and shot across the face of goal from Chris Marsh was only just wide and then the same player headed wide from an inviting cross. After 19 minutes, yet another corner produced an effort on goal which went closer still, with Ryan Phillips hacking the ball off the line and the loose ball was almost turned in again, this time Danny McDonnell coming to the rescue.

Jon-Jo Bates was booked for an early mistimed tackle but after this the Woods finally began to settle and make inroads into the Dunstable half. After 32 minutes a poor clearance from goalkeeper Jack Smith was picked up by Niko Muir and he fired for goal but without the power to beat the covering defender Damen Pickering who cleared the danger.

Totally against the run of play, the Woods then forced a corner and when the ball was delivered, Brad Hewitt headed back across goal and Garry Senior pounced to score the opening goal. Dunstable were level within a minute. A ball was played out wide to the right and when Lee Roache slung in a sliced cross it curled over the head of Reading and dropped in off the far post for a fluky equaliser.

Apart from a shot from Bates which was straight at Smith, the half then petered out a little with the scores still level at half-time. But the Woods were forced into a change at half-time with skipper Hewitt forced out with a groin strain and he was replaced by Lee Close, the former Boreham Wood and England Schools full-back coming on for his Northwood debut.

The Blues went back on the attack, with Phillips picking up a yellow card for one too many fouls and then Dunstable took the lead on 52 minutes. Murphy again delivered, this time from a free-kick and Joe Bruce rose higher than his markers to power a header past Reading into the roof of the net.
Northwood rallied a little. Joakim Ehui, who had been quiet most of the game, got forward and knocked in an inviting cross which Muir was unable to get his head to. Then, after Saturday’s goal hero Ronnel Dennis had replaced the ineffective Bates, Senior should have notched his second of the game, heading wide at the far post from a well-drilled Phillips corner.

After 64 minutes, a McDonnell ball chipped into the box saw Muir turn and bear in on goal but he was clearly held back in his efforts to reach the ball, though it remained unpunished by the match officials. At the other end, the Blues continued to threaten to take the game away from Northwood. Another goal-line clearance was followed by a Reading save to deny Roache. Then Roache shot across goal with Matt Nolan just inches away from a final touch.

The Woods made their final change, with Oliver Sprague replacing Muir for a home debut but Dunstable seemed happy to sit deeper at this stage. They looked happy to rely on breakaways in the closing-stages and there were several of them. A headed clearance from Reading led to a rare misplaced pass from Craig White and Roache looked certain to net his second but, after doing all the right things, he rolled his shot wide of the open goal.
But the Blues did notch a third goal to make the points safe on 86 minutes and it was man of the match Murphy who did the damage, this time getting on the end of a cross to turn the ball in at the near post. Nolan could have added a fourth for the visitors late on but again missed the target after doing all the hard work and Dunstable had to settle for the 3-1 margin of victory.

The Woods now have to regroup and go again as the tough start to the season continues. Daventry Town are at Northwood Park on Saturday and the Northamptonshire side have started well with six points from their two games to date.